Skeptics say the current state of affairs in Israel is identical to the situation that existed before the recent war in Gaza: Hamas firing rockets and Israel reacting with extreme restraint. So, they say, everything is back to square one. Defense Minister Ehud Barak says nothing could be further from the truth.
Although nearly all the votes have been counted, it’s still not clear who has really won the Israeli election. Tzipi Livni’s Kadima emerged as the largest single party, but the right wing parliamentary bloc, led by Likud’s Benjamin Netanyahu, captured the majority of the Knesset’s seats.
Now that there is a cease-fire in place, Israelis are asking whether the 22-day war against Hamas in Gaza achieved its aims.The government argues that overwhelming victory in the field will advance what was Operation Cast Lead’s primary goal: bringing a long period of quiet to civilians in southern Israel, freeing them from the tyranny of cross-border rocket attacks from Gaza. But critics on the right say the government did not go far enough.
The military problem facing Israel’s Defense Minister Ehud Barak and the country’s military planners is twofold: how to stop the Qassam rockets and how to restore Israeli deterrence in the region after eight years of relative inactivity in the face of rocket attacks.
With her narrow victory in the Kadima Party primary, Tzipi Livni’s next major task will be assembling a coalition government so she can become prime minister.
While the Annapolis conference was meant to focus on Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking, the attendance of Syria and Saudi Arabia has raised questions about the prospects for peace between Israel and the wider Arab world.